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Preview: The Official Google Blog

The Official Google Blog



Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture.



Last Build Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

 



Your home just got smarter with new Google Assistant partnersYour home just got smarter with new Google Assistant partnersProduct Lead

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Connecting your Google Assistant on Google Home to other devices around your house can simplify your day and help you get more done. Last year we announced that Nest, Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings are all available on Google Home to help you control your lights, thermostats and switches—with more partners coming soon. Today, “more” have arrived—you can now add Belkin Wemo and Honeywell to that list.

With Honeywell and your Google Assistant on Google Home, you can conveniently manage your home’s temperature without leaving the comfort of your covers—just say "Ok Google, turn the temperature up downstairs.” And when you’re headed out the door, Belkin Wemo and your Google Assistant can help you remember if you turned off the lights—just say “Ok Google, did I leave the bedroom lights on?”

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To set up Home Control from your Google Home, go to the Google Home app, select settings and then select Home Control, and click “+” to add a new device. We're also bringing Home Control to Pixel soon.

Looking for more ways to get things done at home? Try IFTTT, a platform that lets you combine hundreds of different services in new ways. With IFTTT on Pixel and Google Home, you can create custom voice commands for your Google Assistant. So instead of saying “Ok Google, turn on the living room lights,” you can say “Ok Google, I’m home” (or another command of your choice) to turn the lights on.

With the Google Assistant, we want to make it as simple as possible to get things done from anywhere, whether you’re at home or on the go. With today's addition of Belkin Wemo and Honeywell to the Assistant on Google Home—and soon, Pixel—it’s easier than ever to control your smart home and get on with your day!

(image) Belkin Wemo and Honeywell are joining the Google Assistant on Google Home—along with Philips Hue, Nest, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT.


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A new generation of Chromebooks, designed for millions of students and educatorsA new generation of Chromebooks, designed for millions of students and educatorsProduct Manager

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 15:00:00 +0000

Editor’s Note: At Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we're announcing new Chromebooks designed for education. Check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to follow along. When I was a student, I juggled different tools throughout my day—a paper notebook for history, a shared desktop for writing, and a graphing calculator for math. In the years since, computers have begun to replace the need for those various tools—what we did on that calculator can now be done with an app, for example—allowing new possibilities for teaching and learning. Through our tools and devices, we try to help these possibilities come to life. Today both Chromebooks and Classroom are used by more than 20 million teachers and students, and we’re excited to announce that more than 70 million people actively use G Suite for Education. Chromebooks have been the device of choice for educators because of their simplicity, security, shareability and low cost. And at Bett this week we're introducing a new generation of Chromebooks designed to adapt to the many ways students learn. Look out for new Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, and Lenovo in addition to the recently announced Samsung Chromebooks—a powerful option for educators. With new apps, stylus and touch capabilities, we expect our partners will continue to build an even wider variety of Chromebooks in the future, including detachables and tablets.More versatile ChromebooksAt Bett we’re featuring two devices: the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213, arriving late spring. We worked with educators and partners to design these Chromebooks for the specific needs of schools:Stylus capability: Both Chromebooks come with an intelligent, affordable stylus for student note-taking and drawing. The low-cost pens resemble #2 pencils with a unique eraser for correcting mistakes and don’t need charging or pairing, so they can be shared and easily replaced if lost. These Chromebooks use an input prediction model built using Google's machine learning to ensure writing is extremely responsive. And with Optical Character Recognition in apps like Google Keep you can easily search handwritten notes. Our math department was keen to get tablets so students could write out equations. Stylus on Chromebooks will be a massive help for mathematics. Roger Nixon, ICT Director Wheatley Park School, Oxford World-facing camera: Schools everywhere have asked for world-facing cameras so students can use Chromebooks to capture photo and video from all directions. We carefully designed the camera on the keyboard side, so when a Chromebook is flipped, the camera faces outwards and students can hold it like a tablet.USB-C charging: We heard from educators that multiple chargers and slow charging wastes precious time for students. Going forward, all Chromebooks will have standard super-fast USB-C charging, so one Chromebook cart can charge any device quickly. A world of content [...]


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Ringing in 2017 with updates to our Google Voice appsRinging in 2017 with updates to our Google Voice appsProduct Manager

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

When we first introduced Google Voice our goal was to create “one number for life”—a phone number that’s tied to you, rather than a single device or a location. Since then, millions of people have signed up to use Google Voice to call, text and get voicemail on all their devices. It’s been several years since we’ve made significant updates to the Google Voice apps (and by several, we mean around five 😉), but today we’re bringing a fresh set of features to Google Voice with updates to our apps on Android, iOS and the web. The first thing you’ll notice about the updated Google Voice apps is a cleaner, more intuitive design that keeps everything organized. Your inbox now has separate tabs for text messages, calls and voicemails. Conversations stay in one continuous thread, so you can easily see all your messages from each of your contacts in one place. We’ve upgraded the messaging experience with support for group and photo MMS as well as in-notification replies. And we’re starting to introduce voicemail transcription for Spanish and will improve accuracy over time. Going forward, we’ll provide new updates and features to the Google Voice apps. If you currently use Hangouts for your Google Voice communication, there’s no need to change to the new apps, but you might want to try them out as we continue to bring new improvements.We’re starting to roll out these updates today, and they’ll be available to everyone in the coming weeks. For more information about the updated Google Voice apps, visit our Help Center.[...]Google Voice is getting a fresh design and new features, across Android, iOS and the web.


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Half a million U.K. students have traveled near and far with Google ExpeditionsHalf a million U.K. students have traveled near and far with Google ExpeditionsCommunity Manager

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we'll be sharing stories about the teachers, students, and administrators using educational technology to help schools flourish and make learning more interactive and impactful. If you're attending Bett, be sure to visit Google for Education at stand C230 to check out Google Expeditions and sign up for the U.K. Expeditions Pioneer Program. Last autumn, we brought Google Expeditions to the U.K. In just a few months, half a million students have gone on virtual field trips to places they couldn't otherwise go—places like outer space, historical sites on another continent, and inside the human body. Students explore with the help of Google Cardboard, a virtual reality viewer that works with a smartphone, while their teachers guide the trip using a tablet.Today, we’re adding 58 new destinations, which means students and teachers now have more than 500 Expeditions to choose from. We’re also updating 35 of the most popular Expeditions with detailed photos, videos and even sound to make them more interactive.We’ve partnered with the British Museum to create an Expedition exploring the Mayan Ruins of Quiriguá, Guatemala, and with the National Trust for Scotland for a tour of a Victorian era printing factory and the home of Miss Agnes. Students can explore the deep oceans of Bermuda, Canada, the Sargasso Sea, and the high seas in between on Nekton’s NW Atlantic Expedition. Beyond landmarks, students can even travel through time for a culturally immersive experience. "Vikings: Way of the Warrior" lets students join with the legendary Norsemen while they’re worshipping Odin, hunting, and telling tall tales in the mead hall. Teachers can find lesson plans for these Expeditions and many more at #googleexpeditions on TES. To bring Expeditions to your school, you can sign up online to have a Google representative visit. While Expeditions can be used with many of the devices schools or pupils already have—both smartphones and tablets—schools in the U.K. can now purchase a complete Expeditions kit from Redbox VR. The kits include student and teacher phones, VR headsets, a charging case with router and a mobile student cart. The Redbox VR kit, which includes everything a school needs to take their students on an [...]


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How Tring School creates a culture of student sharing that improves classroom resultsHow Tring School creates a culture of student sharing that improves classroom resultsDirector of Learning

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we're highlighting teachers, students and administrators who are using educational technology to help schools flourish and make learning more interactive and impactful. In this post, Chris Lickfold, Director of Learning at Tring School in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, explains how technology has encouraged their school’s 1,500 students to become more curious, independent learners. Over the next few months, we'll be sharing more Impact Portraits on the blog. And check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to learn what we're talking about at Bett. Chris Lickfold will be speaking at Google’s teaching theatre at 11 a.m. on Jan. 26. Traditional measures like attendance rates and grades are important benchmarks for a school’s performance, but they don’t paint a complete picture of student success. They don’t, for example, indicate whether students are engaged with their classwork or are inspired to discover knowledge.Last year we brought Chromebooks to Tring School and trained teachers and students to use G Suite for Education. We were fortunate to be in a school environment that was already reaching its goals, but we saw an opportunity to improve further by creating a culture of sharing and engagement.Shortly after bringing Google tools to students at Tring School, we saw students becoming more independent in their learning—and more curious about the world than we could have imagined. For example, when conducting primary research, we saw students collecting upwards of 300 data points using Google Forms, versus just a handful before the rollout of Google tools. Now, we're beginning to see the impact of student-led learning in more traditional performance benchmarks. In our science classes, 21 percent more students performed above their expected level in 2016 compared to 2015. And 20 percent more students reached average levels in 2016 compared to 2015. Students take ownership of learning—and ask teachers for support when they need itWith a few hundred Chromebooks and Google Classroom, we were able to fully appreciate our students’ proficiencies and challenges. Because Chromebooks allow for real-time collaboration, teachers can see school work in progress and offer support to students as they’re working on assignments instead of providing feedback after classwork was already completed. Students like the privacy of communicating within Classroom, and they’re less self-conscious about asking for help. Teachers are also able to direct students to specific resources they need. And the portability of Chromebooks lets teachers and students to share and respond to feedback even when they’re not in a classroom together.“The increased feedback and interaction with teachers improved my marks,” one of our Year 11 students told us. “We never had this level of detail or ability to ask specific questions back within the work.” Richer, more contextual learning environmentsChromebooks and G Suite have buttressed our flipped learning approach and given students more autonomy over how they learn and what they learn about. It’s easy to provision content on Chromebooks; teachers in our modern foreign languages department add tools like Google Maps so students can immerse themselves in the locations of the languages they’re studying. Students in our design and technology department can work on projects at their own pace. In other words: Students, not teachers, decide how they’ll meet learning goals.As students work with their chosen resources, such as digital textbooks, teachers can tailor feedback and guidance for individual students—something they w[...]


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App Security Improvements: Looking back at 2016App Security Improvements: Looking back at 2016Android Security Program Manager

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

In April 2016, the Android Security team described how the Google Play App Security Improvement (ASI) program has helped developers fix security issues in 100,000 applications. Since then, we have detected and notified developers of 11 new security issues and provided developers with resources and guidance to update their apps. Because of this, over 90,000 developers have updated over 275,000 apps!

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ASI now notifies developers of 26 potential security issues. To make this process more transparent, we introduced a new page where developers can find information about all these security issues in one place. This page includes links to help center articles containing instructions and additional support contacts. Developers can use this page as a resource to learn about new issues and keep track of all past issues.

Developers can also refer to our security best practices documents and security checklist, which are aimed at improving the understanding of general security concepts and providing examples that can help tackle app-specific issues.

How you can help:

For feedback or questions, please reach out to us through the Google Play Developer Help Center. To report potential security issues in apps, email us at security+asi@android.com.

(image) Thanks to the Google Play App Security Improvement Program, over 90,000 developers have updated over 275,000 apps.


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See how G Suite and DocuSign help real estate brokers close deals fasterSee how G Suite and DocuSign help real estate brokers close deals fasterPartner Marketing Manager, Google Cloud

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:00:00 +0000

G Suite helps teams cut through clutter and get right down to business: accomplishing more with less rigmarole. In November, we welcomed DocuSign to the Recommended for G Suite Program to trim time businesses spend on e-signatures and approvals. This G Suite integration makes it easy to fast-track signatures with multiple signers, which is especially valuable for our customers in the real estate industry.

Sereno Group, a real estate brokerage firm in California, uses DocuSign and G Suite to schedule signings, maintain communication between agents and clients, and easily exchange paperwork. By using less complicated tools, agents can build their business and clientele faster.  

“When our tools are easier to use, agents can spend less time managing paperwork and devote more time to their clients,” said Tim Proschold, VP of Group Strategy & Success at Sereno Group.

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Sereno Group agents save time by using other G Suite integrations, like DocuSign for Google Drive and the DocuSign Gmail extension. Agents use Zipforms, online forms used by real estate agents, to store important deal information. Then others can go into these Zipforms, assemble important real estate, add in files or documents stored in Google Drive with the DocuSign for Google Drive integration and send materials to clients for them to sign. Tracking the status of signatures is easy with the DocuSign Gmail extension. Sereno Group agents can see the status of signatures directly in Gmail to know what’s pending and what’s complete. 

Other brokers are catching on too. Chris Lopez, broker with World Class Properties, is saving time with DocuSign and G Suite: “I sign between five and 10 documents every day and I save up to 10 minutes on each document. That frees up nearly eight hours a week for me to focus on what’s important for my clients.”

These real estate agents are clearly on to something. According to DocuSign, Sereno Group real estate agents are using DocuSign tools more and more — last year they used 18,000 envelope signatures up from 5,500 the year before. To learn more about how to use G Suite and DocuSign for your business, sign up for this webinar on February 7, 2017 at 10am PST / 1pm EST.
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How Devonport Boys High School is building the next generation of entrepreneursHow Devonport Boys High School is building the next generation of entrepreneursDirector of the Learning Commons

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we're highlighting teachers, students and administrators who are using educational technology to make learning more interactive and impactful for their students. From our Impact Portraits series, Ben Forte shares how Devonport is creating a more collaborative, entrepreneurial environment for its 1,200 students using technology. Check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to learn what we're talking about at Bett. To hear more from Ben, visit Google’s teaching theater at Bett on Thursday Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. When you walk into a startup or big tech office, it’s not out of the ordinary to see ping pong tables, vending machines for gadgets or open spaces without walls or cubicles. But these environments aren’t standard in the education system. In fact, most schools think that this type of modern, open space would create chaos and limit the ability to learn.When I joined Devonport Boys High School, I set out to prove the opposite. I believed that by creating open spaces and giving students the technology and tools they need to think like entrepreneurs, they’d learn far more than in a rule-bound, confined environment. To support this idea, we created the Learning Commons: a dedicated space including a big room with an artificial lawn and bean bags, a separate room with whiteboard-ready desks, and small meeting rooms, custom built for collaboration and group discussions. At the same time, we overhauled our technology. Chromebooks and G Suite for Education were so affordable that each student was allotted a device, letting us distribute technology to more students and teachers than ever before. We replaced outdated systems with Google tools to personalize learning and encourage greater collaboration. The result was a measurable increase in student participation, including a 60 percent increase in students accessing their accounts outside of school. Empowering students to be digital ambassadorsOften when schools adopt new learning technology, teachers and administrators take responsibility for introducing the required resources and processes. At Devonport, we asked students to participate in the roll-out, and they embraced the opportunity. They created department- and subject-specific websites using Google Sites, and set up others for clubs and extracurriculars like Biology Society, Chess Club, Astronomy Club and Debate Club. This student-led project helped foster an entrepreneurial mindset and reorganize the departments and clubs. And now students, teachers and administrators can easily access shared event calendars, photos and resources with Google Drive.Students also use Hangouts and Chromebooks outside of the classroom to hold meetings for student-run clubs and extracurricular activities. During the meetings, they take notes in Google Docs for everyone to view, and to help those who missed the meeting get up to speed. The portability of Chromebooks allows students to collaborate regardless of their physical location. Meeting students where they are with personalized resources and parent involvementWith G Suite for Education, teachers can create a customized learning path by sharing videos, articles and additional assignments with each student based on their areas of improvement. By tracking their progress and giving every student one-on-one feedback during and after class, teachers are meeting students where t[...]


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Showcase your art in new ways with Tilt Brush ToolkitShowcase your art in new ways with Tilt Brush ToolkitCreative Director

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Tilt Brush is a tool for creators of all backgrounds and styles to make art in virtual reality. Sketches made in Tilt Brush stand on their own — you can film your sketches, take 2D snapshots, export them as 3D objects. However there hasn't been an easy way to add animation, interactivity, or sequencing to your art. That is, until now.Today, we're introducing the Tilt Brush Toolkit, an open source library for bringing your Tilt Brush art to other creative projects. With the toolkit, the next generation of artists can create narrative, interactive, and immersive content using Tilt Brush sketches. The Tilt Brush Toolkit includes Python scripts and a Unity SDK with everything you need to make movies, interactive stories, video games, music videos, or other projects using assets created in Tilt Brush. We’re sharing all of our brush shaders, our audio reactive code, a streamlined Unity import pipeline, file format conversion utilities, and several great examples so hobbyists and professionals can showcase their Tilt Brush art in new places, on new platforms, and in new ways.   Share your projects using the #TiltBrush hashtag, and we’ll highlight our favorites from @googlevr.[...]Showcase your art in new places, on new platforms, and in new ways with the Tilt Brush Toolkit.


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A virtual trek through Petra with Google CardboardA virtual trek through Petra with Google CardboardInteractive Designer

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Last year, we launched a virtual tour of Petra and more than 30 historical sites across Jordan in Google Street View. The interactive Maps experience took visitors on an intimate journey into Jordan’s lost city of stone—and now, we’ve made this historic trek even more immersive with a 360º experience for Google Cardboard.   We’ve used 360º mapping, aerial imagery and millions of photos stitched together, to recreate six of Petra’s most beautiful and iconic panoramas for you to explore. Audio narration, interactive hotspots and sound effects guide you as you follow the footsteps of the ancient Nabataeans. This 2000-year-old civilization miraculously transformed the harshest of deserts into an oasis of life and culture.Wander through the winding pathway of Al Siq to the Treasury, Petra’s most famous landmark. Look all around in 360º to explore every detail of this elaborate carved facade recognizable from movies like “Indiana Jones” and “Transformers.” Make your way past Petra’s carved theatre and hidden tombs until you reach Al Deir, or the Monastery. No trip to Petra is complete without staring up in awe at its grandeur. The doorway alone is eight meters tall! Of course, nothing can compare to visiting Petra in real life. But now anyone with an internet connection can trek this remarkable UNESCO Heritage Site like never before—and we hope this 360º experience inspires a new generation of tourists to come to visit the rose-red city for themselves. Start your tour now on your mobile phone at g.co/PetraVR.[...]Take an immersive VR tour of Petra, the lost city of stone. Unearth its ancient tombs and hidden treasures in 360º with Google Cardboard.


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Don’t let a spotty connection stop you from searchingDon’t let a spotty connection stop you from searchingProduct Manager

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:05:00 +0000

Whether you’re a commuter reading the news with a spotty network, a farmer looking up crop prices with no service in the fields, or just driving through a tunnel, all is not lost when your search is interrupted by a bad connection. Now on the Google app for Android, even if your search fails, Google will deliver your results as soon as a connection is available—so you can keep searching with a single tap.

Mobile networks can sometimes be inconsistent or spotty, which means that even if you have a connection when you start your search, it might fail before you get your results back. With this change, search results are saved as soon as they are retrieved, even if you lose connection afterwards or go into airplane mode. So the next time you lose service, feel free to queue up your searches, put your phone away and carry on with your day. The Google app will work behind-the-scenes to detect when a connection is available again and deliver your search results once completed.

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And if you’re worried about data charges or preserving battery life, don’t fret. This feature won’t drain your battery, and by fetching streamlined search results pages, it minimally impacts data usage.

So before you head out the door, make sure the Google app is running the latest version for Android, and the next time you hit a spotty network, your results are covered.

(image) Now on the Google app for Android, if your search fails due to a spotty network, Google will deliver your results as soon as a connection is available so you can keep searching with a single tap.


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Silence speaks louder than words when finding malwareSilence speaks louder than words when finding malwareSoftware Engineer

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

In Android Security, we're constantly working to better understand how to make Android devices operate more smoothly and securely. One security solution included on all devices with Google Play is Verify apps. Verify apps checks if there are Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) on your device. If a PHA is found, Verify apps warns the user and enables them to uninstall the app.But, sometimes devices stop checking up with Verify apps. This may happen for a non-security related reason, like buying a new phone, or, it could mean something more concerning is going on. When a device stops checking up with Verify apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app with a high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it, is considered a DOI app. We use the DOI metric, along with the other security systems to help determine if an app is a PHA to protect Android users. Additionally, when we discover vulnerabilities, we patch Android devices with our security update system.This blog post explores the Android Security team’s research to identify the security-related reasons that devices stop working and prevent it from happening in the future.Flagging DOI AppsTo understand this problem more deeply, the Android Security team correlates app install attempts and DOI devices to find apps that harm the device in order to protect our users.With these factors in mind, we then focus on ‘retention’. A device is considered retained if it continues to perform periodic Verify apps security check ups after an app download. If it doesn’t, it’s considered potentially dead or insecure (DOI). An app’s retention rate is the percentage of all retained devices that downloaded the app in one day. Because retention is a strong indicator of device health, we work to maximize the ecosystem’s retention rate.Therefore, we use an app DOI scorer, which assumes that all apps should have a similar device retention rate. If an app’s retention rate is a couple of standard deviations lower than average, the DOI scorer flags it. A common way to calculate the number of standard deviations from the average is called a Z-score. The equation for the Z-score is below. N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.In this context, we call the Z-score of an app’s retention rate a DOI score. The DOI score indicates an app has a statistically significant lower retention rate if the Z-score is much less than -3.7. This means that if the null hypothesis is true, there is much less than a 0.01% chance the magnitude of the Z-score being as high. In this case, the null hypothesis means the app accidently correlated with lower retention rate independent of what the app does.This allows for percolation of extreme apps (with low retention rate and high number of downloads) to the top of the DOI list. From there, we combine the DOI score with other information to determine whether to classify the app as a PHA. We then use Verify apps to remove existing installs of the app and prevent future installs of the app. Difference between a regular and DOI app download on the same device Results in the wildAmong others, the DOI score flagged many apps in three well known malware families— Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan. Although they behave differently, the DOI scorer flagged over 25,000 apps in these three families of malware because they can degrad[...]


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Making Google+ work better for youMaking Google+ work better for youProduct Manager

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 17:22:00 +0000

For the past few years, we’ve been doing a lot of listening on the Google+ team, and we’ve learned a lot.Listening to your feedback inspired us to introduce a new Google+ focused on helping you connect around shared interests a little over a year ago. Your feedback led us to launch more than 50 updates across Android, iOS and web to ensure the new experience serves you even better than the previous one. Big changes like powerful tools for Community moderators, image comments and joining the G Suite family were all thanks to your input.After all of these updates, more people are discovering vibrant Communities and creating inspiring Collections than ever before. So it’s in this same spirit that we’re pleased to add three new much requested updates, rolling out over the next couple of weeks, to Google+.Hiding low-quality commentsWe’re making it easier to have good conversations by hiding lower quality comments on posts, so you can focus on the comments that matter most. If you’d like to see all the comments on a post, you can always click or tap “View more comments.” Showing you more of what mattersTo help you see more of the stuff you care about, we’ve adjusted Google+ to make the best use of your screen size and show you less white space and more posts. Photographers share big, beautiful images on Google+ every day, so we’ve also added zoom functionality to photos on Google+ web to let you get up close and personal with the images you’re interested in. Bringing back EventsFinally (drumroll please!), we’re bringing Events over to the new Google+. While there’s more to be done to improve the experience, beginning January 24th you’ll be able to create and join events on Google+ web as you have in the past. Please note that Events will not be available for G Suite at this time.With this latest round of updates, we believe the new Google+ is really your Google+— designed around your suggestions, requests and needs. It also means it’s time to say goodbye to classic Google+ on the web, which we’ll be turning down on January 24.Just because we’re bidding adieu to classic Google+ doesn’t mean we’re done working on the new one. Our aim is to make Google+ the best place to connect around the things you care about, so please use the “Send Feedback” link in the apps and on the web to keep the feedback coming. We’re listening.[...]From better commenting, to showing you more of what matters, to bringing back Events, we’re making a bunch of improvements to Google+ based on your feedback.


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Zurich calling – Expanding our European tech hubZurich calling – Expanding our European tech hubCountry Director, Switzerland

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 12:30:00 +0000

The future of research and development for Google in Europe may well lie in Zurich. Currently housing over 2,000 Googlers from 75 countries, this winter we’ve expanded our presence along the Limmat River, giving us room to expand to 5,000 people. Zurich, already the largest Google development centre outside of the U.S. and housing teams working on Google Search, Maps, Calendar, YouTube and Gmail, will now be the European homebase for our exploration of research and implementation of machine learning.Millions of people around the world are already using internet services developed and managed by the Google teams in Zurich--products used by individuals or, like many leading European companies do, to improve the efficiency of business processes. By adding new offices in Europaallee next to the Zurich train station, Google Switzerland is creating even more space for innovation.The new Google Europe Research Team has been based in Zurich since June 2016, working on the future issue of machine learning and focusing on natural speech recognition and reproduction. The work is used in services such as Google Assistant, Google Photos or Google Translate.“Google is now deeply rooted in Zurich. I am very pleased that Google has chosen to invest in Zurich – both in jobs and new offices. The opening of the new office shows that Zurich – with its high quality of life, close proximity to institutions of applied sciences and universities, and modern infrastructure – is an attractive location for ICT companies and businesses in general,” Zurich’s mayor Corine Mauch said, expressing her pleasure at Google’s additional investment in Zurich.In addition to fostering in-house talent, Google Switzerland is campaigning for stronger education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education in the country including partnerships designed to strengthen programming skills and media competency in Switzerland. Starting in autumn 2017, Google will begin training IT apprentices in the new offices, and together with the academic community, including ETH in Zurich and EPFL, we’re working on research partnerships on machine learning, machine perception, and computer systems.We’re also working to support Switzerland’s SME community via the exportdigital.ch platform, created in collaboration with Switzerland Global Enterprise. Through this online portal, part of Google’s Growth Engine efforts, companies and individuals can access digital know-how to open doors to potential export markets around the world. During the past three years, more than 30,000 people have taken these courses.And because Google itself started out in a garage--we believe that big ideas often start small--Google is a founding member of the digitalswitzerland association working to position Switzerland as an international digital hub.We believe that partnerships--in economics, research, and policy--are important factors in this success for Switzerland. That's why we're delighted for the opportunity to be at the heart of Zurich during such exciting times through research agreements, continuing education initiatives for SMEs, and initiatives like digitalswitzerland to promote innovation at and for the site. We're optimistic about the latest expansion and to continue working together with our partners to increase innovation in Switzerland and to shape the future.[...]Zurich, already the largest Google development centre outside of the U.S. and housing teams working on Google Search, Maps, Calendar, YouTube and Gmail, will now be the European home base for our exploration of research and implementation of machine learning.


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Five ways retailers can provide personal, convenient customer service using ChromeFive ways retailers can provide personal, convenient customer service using ChromeSenior Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Successful retail outlets are always striving to improve customer service. Brick-and-mortar stores are borrowing a page from their online counterparts and turning to new technologies like Chrome to help make shopping easier and more fun for customers. Here are five ways retailers are using Chrome to personalize shopping, manage ad campaigns, offer local information and speed up the ordering process:Personalized shopping The best retail experience is personalized and relevant. Putting umbrellas and raincoats in front of a store during a rainstorm, for example, boosts inbound traffic and makes satisfied — and dry —  customers. But other than displaying umbrellas in the windows, how can a store advertise a spur of the moment promotion like that?  Chico’s, a women’s apparel and accessories chain, uses Chromeboxes to tailor promotions across its U.S. stores. While bikinis are featured in digital displays in Florida, coats might be featured in Chicago and cocktail dresses in Las Vegas. Chico’s is working on bringing personalized content to 5,000 screens in its stores.Express ordering Australia’s Famous Fish by Steve Costi restaurant chain is mixing the best of self-service technology with old-world aesthetics. They introduced kiosk-based interactive menu boards based on Chrome which let people place their orders. This means customers have shorter lines and they get their food faster too. Customers are pleased, and there’s been a noticeable boost to the bottom line. At the company’s Fountain Gate location, for example, average orders are 28.7% higher when customers use the kiosks. “Combining self-service touch screens with dynamic menu boards, the commercial Chrome technology is already providing a huge return on investment,” says Jon Sully, director of Famous Fish. “We’re seeing a noticeable increase in brand awareness and a large boost in customer spend.”Going local Where are the fish biting today? If you’re a sporting goods store and answer that for your customers, they’ll stay loyal for life. Scheels, a sporting-goods chain with 26 stores in 11 states, uses Chrome digital signs to display information about nearby river conditions and advice on the latest equipment and local fishing techniques. “They’re incredibly popular features that have helped build customer loyalty,” says Josh Diemert, lead systems administrator for Scheels.Scheels also lets customers place orders using in-store kiosks. That frees up staff to provide more specialized service to individual customers. “We’ve taken the in-store experience to a new level by leveraging technology to make shopping fun, while at the same time empowering our sales team to deliver a better quality of service,” says Diemert.Managing hundreds of campaignsStore managers have a lot on their plates, and managing in-store digital signage campaigns can distract them from their most important work of helping customers and supporting their staff. Compass Group Canada turned to Chrome digital signage for promoting in-store offers in its restaurants and coffee shops. One marketer can now manage dozens of campaigns using Chrome Device Management, saving hundreds of hours of work a week. And campaigns are carefully tracked to make sure they perform well, leading to a 2% to 4% sales boost, which adds up for a company with $2 billion in annual revenue.Bring more employees and processes onlineIf more retail employees have better access to computing, stores can move many of their processes online and make them more effici[...]


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New year, new look: ride services mode gets an updateNew year, new look: ride services mode gets an updateSenior Product Manager

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Last year, we introduced a new ride services mode to Google Maps as a convenient option for people to easily get where they need to go. Since then we’ve added a number of new ride service partners in the U.S. and worldwide. Today, we’re starting to roll out an updated ride services experience to make it even easier for you to book a ride directly from Google Maps, on both Android and iOS globally. A new look With today's updates, you'll now see more types of ride options and more actionable information. When you open ride services mode, instead of a long list of ride service providers and ride options, you’ll see the map you know and love, along with a carousel of ride service providers in your area. Just tap on your preferred provider to see a complete list of ride options and special offers or promotions.                        Past ride services experience (left), new ride services experience (right)Book an Uber ride directly within Google Maps We’re also trying out a new integration that lets you book, complete and pay for an Uber ride without ever leaving Google Maps—even if you don’t have the Uber app installed on your device. Once you sign into your existing Uber account (or create one), you can book an Uber ride, track your driver on the map, and connect with your driver—all from within the Google Maps app. Here’s how it works: You can even take a look at information about your destination while en route. So menus, hours and other helpful details are only a swipe away. From booking a ride to reserving a table at a local restaurant, booking your favorite fitness class to ordering delivery for a night in, Google Maps no longer just shows you the information you're looking for. It also makes it easier to get things done in the real world — all in one place.[...]You'll now see more types of ride options, on both Android and iOS. We’re also trying out a new integration that lets you book, complete and pay for an Uber ride without ever leaving Google Maps.


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Google Play Music’s “Ones to Watch” Artists in 2017Google Play Music’s “Ones to Watch” Artists in 2017Head of U.S. Music Curation

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Everyone loves to be one of the first to discover a new up-and-coming artist before they make it, but with thousands of thriving artists out there launching new music daily, discovering the next big musical breakthrough isn’t easy. Google Play Music has you covered! After hours of listening, analyzing and discussing who you should keep your eye (or ear) on this year, our team of music experts put together a list of the top 10 “Ones to Watch” in 2017—and a new playlist featuring top tracks from these rising stars.Google Play Music’s ‘Ones to Watch’ for 2017Lost KingsKodie ShaneBishop BriggsMidlandAllison CrutchfieldAminéMaggie RogersKamaiyahKehlaniRag'n'Bone ManSo, how did we select our “Ones to Watch” list? Our Google Play Music editorial team locked themselves in a room (well, sort of) and considered everything from track performance on Pop Before It Breaks and Blogged 50 to Google search counts and social media reach, to just pure, inalienable music expert gut instinct. Then, by way of committee, lots of strong coffee, some heated debates, and even more coffee, the final 10 artists were chosen.Listen now so that when one of their singles hits the radio, you can say with confidence that you heard it first.Learn more about the 2017 “Ones to Watch” Artists:Lost KingsEDM duo Lost Kings scored an Internet hit in 2015 with the Carl Carlton via Chris Brown “Bad.” Their latest single, “Phone Down,” with singer and hit songwriter Emily Warren shows how they could follow in the The Chainsmokers’ footsteps from the blogs onto the pop charts. For fans of: The Chainsmokers, Classixx, Matoma.Kodie ShaneAtlanta’s Kodie Shane opened her debut mixtape with “Drip In My Walk,” one of the best do-it-for-the-Vine,Travolta-in-white-polyester swagger anthems we heard in 2016. “Baby, you know I’m a star!” Here’s hoping 2017 is the year that becomes incontrovertible. For fans of Lil Yachty, Dreezy, D.R.A.M.Bishop BriggsBound to be a festival favorite this year, Bishop Briggs brings energy and an almost manic array of beats to her dark synth-pop. With a soulful voice that packs a punch, Briggs snagged an opening spot on Coldplay’s stadium tour, a long way from the karaoke bars she performed in growing up. For fans of: BANKS, Alessia Cara, St. Vincent.MidlandGracefully nodding to ’70s and ’80s country with a modern twist, Texas trio Midland are poised to bring back traditionalism to the country airwaves. Their harmonies and classic steel guitar evoke the Old West erasing the bro-country invasion of recent years. For fans of: George Strait, Dwight Yoakam, The Eagles.Allison CrutchfieldTwin sister and erstwhile bandmate of Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, Allison Crutchfield is a powerful indie rock singer-songwriter in her own right. “Dean's Room” is a propulsive and buoyant power-pop number from forthcoming the album “Tourists in This Town,” which showcases Crutchfield's softer songwriting. For fans of: Angel Olsen, Mitski, Courtney Barnett.AminéIf Clipse and Pharrell wrote a love song, it would probably sound like “Caroline,” the off-kilter and impossibly catchy debut song from Portland, OR native Aminé. We’ll be eagerly anticipating his debut album this year. For fans of: Rae Sremmurd, The Neptunes, Tarantino movies.  Maggie RogersHand-picked and boosted to viral fame by no less powerful a taste-maker than Pharrell, young singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers is bound for big things in 2017 and beyond. "Alaska," the song that started it all, is an infectious, alternately frosty and thawed-out blend of electro-pop, R&B, and Rogers’ roots in indi[...]


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Unlocking G Suite for Nonprofits: Improve internal workflow and communicationUnlocking G Suite for Nonprofits: Improve internal workflow and communicationGoogle for NonprofitsGoogle for Nonprofits

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Whether you have a team of five or 500 a seamless, collaborative workflow is critical in the digital age. Our goal is to make sure that your nonprofit is able to focus on changing the world by using technology to save time -- not waste it. In the digital age though, information sharing can often be complex; your team might not work in the same office, or even the same timezone. Some team members might be in an office with computer access, while others are in the field on mobile devices. Who from your team should be able to access confidential documents? This brings us to a key question: How do you empower team members to work together towards a common goal, and use technology to enable it?Great question. We’d like to introduce you to G Suite - (formerly  Google Apps for Work ). G Suite aims to help teams work together in real-time -- no matter where they are in the world.Today, we’re spotlighting a few nonprofits to share how their teams  are using Google tools and apps to improve workflow and internal communication. Mercy Beyond Borders - Internal Communication with Sheets & SitesMercy Beyond Borders (MBB) is a U.S. nonprofit that aims to forge opportunities for women and girls in extreme poverty to learn, connect, and lead. Utilizing a small office in the U.S. as home base, MBB targets rural areas in Haiti and South Sudan. In both of these areas, cultural norms and poverty prohibit full participation of women. In fact, these areas offer minimal education and opportunities for employment, which often  impedes the development of leadership skills or positions. Mercy Beyond Borders focuses its programs on providing trainings, scholarships, leadership camps, and business loans for women.To achieve their mission, Mercy Beyond Borders faces the challenge of balancing US-based operations with field work in remote areas like South Sudan and Haiti. Their nonprofit partners range from large organizations to local schools to individuals. So how does Mercy Beyond Borders ensure that all staff, vendors, and partners stay connected and working together in sync? MBB-trained nurse in South Sudan village. Photo credit: Mercy Beyond Borders Mercy Beyond Border began using G Suite to streamline its workflow, connecting their team across the globe. Using G Suite, MBB’s team is able to access, share, and collaborate together in real-time. Take a glimpse into how they do it:Track Finances: MBB manages their overseas program budget expenditures in Google Sheets. Using this tool, the domestic office tracks monthly vendor payments in Haiti. This enables the staff to wire more money as needed in order to ensure program success. Additionally, using Sheets enables the team to provide transparency in the organization, clarifying spending and creating a simple overview of total annual expenses. This standardized and collaborative approach to data enables better efficiency and communication between domestic and international offices.Store images: Mercy Beyond Borders regularly takes photos in the field to keep the domestic office up to date on progress and communicate stories to their donors. The team overseas is able to upload the pictures to Google Drive, which allows them to share or retrieve the images at any time. Share Information: It’s imperative that MBB shares frequent updates with the Board of Directors, highlighting current developments, areas for growth, and new opportunities. To keep the Board of Directors apprised of[...]


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Introducing Toontastic 3D: a playful storytelling app for kidsIntroducing Toontastic 3D: a playful storytelling app for kidsProduct Manager

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Today’s digital devices and tools offer amazing opportunities for kids to imagine, invent and explore with technology—and perhaps most important of all, have fun! Over the years, we’ve worked closely with educators to build programs for kids to create through code, doodle their dreams, explore exotic locales with virtual reality, and even tour the Himalayas with a very friendly Yeti named Verne. Today, we’re unveiling our latest project for kids—one that will give voice to their imaginations and transform their devices into playful and powerful tools for learning creative skills. It’s called Toontastic 3D.

Toontastic 3D

With Toontastic 3D, kids can draw, animate and narrate their own adventures, news stories, school reports, and anything else they might dream up. All they need to do is move characters around on the screen and tell their story. It’s like a digital puppet theater… but with enormous interactive 3D worlds, dozens of customizable characters, 3D drawing tools, and an idea lab with sample stories to inspire new creations.

Like the original Toontastic (released in 2011 and widely praised by educators, kids, and parents around the globe), Toontastic 3D enables kids to build whatever they like—including book or science reports for school, design pitches, short stories and cartoons.

Toontastic 3D is available and free to download today for phones, tablets and select Chromebooks, on both the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. We hope the app will empower kids to imagine, invent and explore while developing skills for the creative jobs of tomorrow—whether they dream of becoming a filmmaker, a teacher, a designer, a cartoonist, or just want to explore the boundaries of their imaginations.

(image) Starting today, parents and teachers all over the world can download Toontastic 3D, a playful storytelling app for kids to draw, animate and narrate their own 3D cartoons.


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Saving you bandwidth through machine learningSaving you bandwidth through machine learningProduct Manager

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 21:00:00 +0000

Photographers of all specialities, skills and genres have long made their home on Google+, sharing their work with a supportive community. Whether it’s of toys, travel or street art, each photo has a unique story to tell, and deserves to be viewed at the best possible resolution.Traditionally, viewing images at high resolution has also meant using lots of bandwidth, leading to slower loading speeds and higher data costs. For many folks, especially those where data is pricey or the internet is spotty, this is a significant concern.To help everyone be able to see the beautiful photos that photographers share to Google+ in their full glory, we’ve turned to machine learning and a new technology called RAISR. RAISR, which was introduced in November, uses machine learning to produce great quality versions of low-resolution images, allowing you to see beautiful photos as the photographers intended them to be seen. By using RAISR to display some of the large images on Google+, we’ve been able to use up to 75 percent less bandwidth per image we’ve applied it to. While we’ve only begun to roll this out for high-resolution images when they appear in the streams of a subset of Android devices, we’re already applying RAISR to more than 1 billion images per week, reducing these users’ total bandwidth by about a third. In the coming weeks we plan to roll this technology out more broadly — and we’re excited to see what further time and data savings we can offer.[...]We’re putting machine learning to work on the hi-res images in Google+ Streams so they load using up to 75% less bandwidth per image, but display in their full glory.


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